Aug 18, 2014, 2:12 PM
I believe the time has come to tell the children about Mom. Heather will not be surprised. Based on the things she has observed on our trip, she will be better able to understand Mom’s behavior. I know you will be able explain things in a way that will be right for them. Please make sure that they know that Mom prefers that people not know.
We loved our trip with Heather. We had only two low points. The first, of course, was the musical on Friday night. The second was this afternoon when Mom was surprised that Heather was not going back to Knoxville with us. The amazing thing was that she was with us the whole time we were talking about and then arranging for her to catch an earlier flight out. She simply didn’t understand. She thought we had discussed her coming to Knoxville and going shopping at Belk’s. She was upset with me for not arranging for her to come to Knoxville. It is sad for me to see this kind of confusion, but this is only the beginning.
August 21, 2014, 10:09 PM
Thanks for bringing this up. I have had a heavier heart since I read your e-mail and Mom called my cell number early Tuesday not clearly understanding whose number was on the Caller ID. Soon I will discuss with Rachel (I have wanted solo reflection time) and begin preparing for a conversation with our kids. All along part of me has wanted to be more open about what is happening countered by not saying a whole lot. Either way, my goal is to show honor, respect and dignity at all times to the Mom (and Dad) God gave me.
Hopefully I can have this talk with Brian, Heather, and Taylor relatively soon. Then I would like to have a phone call with you afterwards to share. You and I are due for a talk anyway. All three of our children are astute yet Heather is much more verbal. Upon her return Monday she’s said nothing about noticing changes in Mom (to me at least and Rachel hasn’t told me anything she has heard). In fact, she said you and Mom mentioned having Jesse go with the two of you with Ron, Randy and Taylor all to NYC because an extra adult makes sense to look out for all the kids. I comically responded, “If an additional parent needs to go and Taylor is going, what about me?” Heather corrected my grammar (I was right) during our talk and said Mom corrected her grammar while in NYC, expressing a little frustration. My response was, “Nan will always be correcting grammar and has done so with Aunt Jesse and me.”
I will keep you posted before we talk with the kids and then we can find time to speak. You are an inspiration and are giving me a wonderful example of service and sacrifice.
August 22, 2014, 8:30 AM
Thank you for your very thoughtful and sensitive response to my email. I knew when I sent it that you would be able to present this to the children in the best way for them and for Mom. I am also touched by your grasp of the sadness that goes along with watching someone you love gradually lose her ability to do everyday things. Since you mentioned the telephone problem, you will also get a picture of the situation with this additional note. She was trying to get our phone messages when she called you. At first I didn’t recognize how much she was struggling to do it. She is also trying to be very independent; so I try not to jump in too quickly when she needs help. (Heather told Mom that I worry about her.) Finally, she gave me the phone and said, “Here, you do it.” This just illustrates some of the little things that she has trouble with. She struggles to do many simple tasks, and it frustrates her. The day we met Heather in Nashville we had lunch with Ann and Jeff Davis. Mom later told me that when Ann asked her where her brother and his wife’s summer cottage is located, she couldn’t remember and said, “I’m not sure. I think California.” That’s a long way from Michigan.
I feel the need to reiterate that despite Mom’s decline we continue to enjoy life. She lovedn our trip with Heather. There are many things she won’t remember, but she will continue to have a special feeling about our time together. While Mom and I rarely talk specifically about her Alzheimer’s, we do mention things (specific instances of memory problems) occasionally and even laugh about them. That was the case yesterday when she received a call from a friend from the Friends of the Symphony. I answered the phone and told Mom who was on the phone. She didn’t remember the person at all, but she carried on a good conversation with her, even expressing enthusiasm upon learning that the person (a widow) has become engaged. When she hung up, she told me she couldn’t remember this person at all. I told her she does a good job faking it and continued to say you do a lot of that. She agreed and laughed.
I will be interested in hearing when you have told the children and how they react. At their ages, I wouldn’t expect anything dramatic from them, but I think it will help them better understand our situation now and in the future.